Breaking News
Comments
Oldest First | Newest First | Threaded View
Page 1 / 4   >   >>
Max The Magnificent
User Rank
Blogger
re: SmartDraw – The Visio Killer?
Max The Magnificent   3/2/2011 5:14:49 PM
NO RATINGS
I'm too old to change now -- I think I'll be a Visio man until I die (over the years I've become a "Diva" with Visio) -- but if I'd had access to SmartDraw when I first started writing, I could have saved myself literally hundreds of hours over the years.

Duane Benson
User Rank
Blogger
re: SmartDraw – The Visio Killer?
Duane Benson   3/2/2011 5:55:52 PM
NO RATINGS
I've been looking for a good alternative to Visio. I don't need it quite enough to justify the purchase, but I need it enough that having it would make my life easier. I downloaded the SmartDraw free seven-day demo version and will be checking it out over the next few days. The biggest worry I have with it after a quick glance is that it may be too automated. I've found quite often that the more automated a piece of software is, the more restrictive it is. It's rare to find a good balance between the two. Hopefully, this will be it. As far as image software goes, I use The Gimp. It seems to be more powerful than Paint.net, but it's probably more difficult to use. (That trade-off again). I've tried Paint.net but I've been using Gimp for so long that I end up sticking with it instead of trying to learn the new thing, as you did with Visio.

Max The Magnificent
User Rank
Blogger
re: SmartDraw – The Visio Killer?
Max The Magnificent   3/2/2011 6:12:19 PM
NO RATINGS
I was originally planning on looking at Gimp, but I heard Paint.net was easier to learn/use, and when it comes to image processing all I really need are basic functions like crop, resize, and color and contrast adjustment. I know what you mean about automation getting in the way, but my impression of SmartDraw is that they have come up with a good balance -- and this really will make it easy for folks to create really professional-looking charts and diagrams and drawings. One reason for sticking with Visio is that I can now use it with my eyes closed (well, almost :-) Also I already paid for my Visio licenses. But the biggest reason is two commands called Fragment and Union. These are incredibly powerful. With Fragment you can overlay two or more shapes, select them, and use the Fragment command to split them into their intersecting component parts. By comparison, Union allows you to merge multiple disparate shapes into one shape. These are "power-user" commands, but I regularly wish to create quite complex diagrams and I find myself using them all the time. The problem is that these commands don't exist in SmartDraw. This won't be of concern to the majority of users, but I can't imagine life without them (grin). One worrying thing is that the folks who create Visio seem to be pushing these commands into the background (see my blog http://bit.ly/fa5Vzw and especially the comments). If these commands ever disappear in a future version of Visio, then that's the point when I shall cease to upgrade. Please do let me know how you get on with the SmartDraw demo. You can email me at max@CliveMaxfield.com -- if you wish I could publish your feedback in a future blog.

Brian_D
User Rank
Freelancer
re: SmartDraw – The Visio Killer?
Brian_D   3/3/2011 2:05:04 AM
NO RATINGS
Max, I'd recommend Dia, a free drawing package, which I've been using for home projects recently: http://live.gnome.org/Dia Beginner tips: - turn on and use layers to organize elements - only vector text may be rotated It's also scriptable in Python (which I haven't actually tried out) : http://live.gnome.org/Dia/Python Brian

David Brown
User Rank
Rookie
re: SmartDraw – The Visio Killer?
David Brown   3/3/2011 10:41:26 AM
NO RATINGS
Gimp is a totally different level of software from paint.net. Paint.net is a much simpler and more limited program - that makes it easier and faster to use, but it doesn't have anything like the facilities of Gimp. Gimp is more often compared to Photoshop. There are a lot of things that Photoshop can do that Gimp can't (in particular, Gimp doesn't support more than 8-bit colour, or printing colour spaces). There are other things that Gimp does better than Photoshop - it has far more advanced scripting facilities. As with all such choices, try them out and take your pick - there is no single "best" choice. For vector drawings, look at Inkscape. It is powerful, open source, regularly updated, and cross-platform, so you have nothing to lose by giving it a try. As an alternative for painting programs, have a look at TuxPaint. It is aimed at kids, but with its range of tools and clipart (or "stamps"), you can actually use it to make cheerful and colourful pictures very easily.

Max The Magnificent
User Rank
Blogger
re: SmartDraw – The Visio Killer?
Max The Magnificent   3/3/2011 2:54:35 PM
NO RATINGS
Thanks so much for this feedback and for your suggestions -- I will take a look at Inkscape when I get a free moment (does it support 'Fragment' and 'Union' commends?)

Max The Magnificent
User Rank
Blogger
re: SmartDraw – The Visio Killer?
Max The Magnificent   3/3/2011 3:12:56 PM
NO RATINGS
Hi Brian -- thanks for the suggestion -- now my mind is reeling with all of the possibilities -- Max

moxbox
User Rank
Rookie
re: SmartDraw – The Visio Killer?
moxbox   3/3/2011 4:25:41 PM
NO RATINGS
Max, The other important point about GIMP and DIA is that they also run on Linux, as well as on Microsoft platforms.

David Brown
User Rank
Rookie
re: SmartDraw – The Visio Killer?
David Brown   3/3/2011 4:35:05 PM
NO RATINGS
I haven't actually used Inkscape very much - I seldom need to make very advanced diagrams. In practice I use either Open Office Draw, my EDA Schematics program (it's fine for block diagrams), or sometimes graphviz for generating diagrams. And I've had occasion to use Dia in the past, though not much recently. However, I would expect that Inkscape has "fragment" and "union" commands, or some equivalent. And don't forget to try TuxPaint. You might not find much use for it professionally, but you can still have fun!

Max The Magnificent
User Rank
Blogger
re: SmartDraw – The Visio Killer?
Max The Magnificent   3/3/2011 4:35:17 PM
NO RATINGS
Good point

Page 1 / 4   >   >>


Flash Poll
Top Comments of the Week
Like Us on Facebook
EE Times on Twitter
EE Times Twitter Feed

Datasheets.com Parts Search

185 million searchable parts
(please enter a part number or hit search to begin)
EE Life
Frankenstein's Fix, Teardowns, Sideshows, Design Contests, Reader Content & More
Max Maxfield

Energizing the Young Engineers of Tomorrow
Max Maxfield
15 comments
It doesn't seem all that long ago when I was a bright-eyed, bushy-tailed young engineer. Now I feel like an old fool, but where are we going to find one at this time of the day (LOL)?

Jolt Judges and Andrew Binstock

Jolt Awards: The Best Books
Jolt Judges and Andrew Binstock
1 Comment
As we do every year, Dr. Dobb's recognizes the best books of the last 12 months via the Jolt Awards -- our cycle of product awards given out every two months in each of six categories. No ...

Engineering Investigations

Air Conditioner Falls From Window, Still Works
Engineering Investigations
2 comments
It's autumn in New England. The leaves are turning to red, orange, and gold, my roses are in their second bloom, and it's time to remove the air conditioner from the window. On September ...

David Blaza

The Other Tesla
David Blaza
5 comments
I find myself going to Kickstarter and Indiegogo on a regular basis these days because they have become real innovation marketplaces. As far as I'm concerned, this is where a lot of cool ...